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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Packed stadiums and a more normal fan experience could return by late 2021, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said yesterday.

Why it matters: If Fauci's prediction comes true, it could save countless programs from going extinct next year.

By the numbers: Tottenham reported losses of $86 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2020, compared to a profit of $92 million in the previous 12 months, per The Athletic (subscription). Looking ahead, they expect that to get much worse.

  • "Our estimate for the current financial year of the potential loss of revenue, should the stadium remain closed to fans, is in excess of [$201] million," said chairman Daniel Levy.
  • MLB, to take a stateside example, claims its teams collectively lost $3.1 billion due to its shortened, fanless season.

The big picture: Fauci's imagined future won't become reality just because he said it out loud, but fortunately there are mechanisms on the horizon that should actually give us a lot of hope.

  • President-elect Joe Biden has said time and again that once he takes office, he'll work with state and local leaders to implement a nationwide mask mandate, which should significantly slow the spread during the vaccine's rollout.
  • Vaccine distribution is likely to begin later this month, and it appears there's a good chance even the lowest-risk individuals will be able to get their shots by the summer.
"100% of Americans that want the vaccine will have had the vaccine by [June]. We'll have over 300 million doses available to the American public well before then."
— Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, a top official of Operation Warp Speed, told MSNBC

Between the lines: Stadiums won't magically fill up overnight, but the incremental increases in attendance through the spring and summer should help teams weather the storm until this is truly behind us.

  • Plus, while even limited attendance looks foolish now given the rapidly spiking numbers, it should be far less risky once the combined effect of masks and vaccines begins taking root.

Yes, but: Even the best laid plans often go awry, and vaccine distribution at this scale could present its own logistical hurdles that prevent the aforementioned timeline from being met.

The bottom line: Going to a game used to fall somewhere between a treat and just another way to spend disposable income. Perhaps one year from now, stadiums full of people will realize just how good they once had it.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker

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